Monday, April 11, 2011

Fulton settles with Milton over emergency services.

By Patrick Fox
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Milton has settled a long-running battle with Fulton County over police services it received while the city was still in its infancy.

On Monday night, the city council agreed to pay the county $110,000 -- about one-third of what Fulton County originally sought -- for police patrols during the city's first months of existence from December 2006 to May 2007.

The intergovernmental agreement called for Fulton County to provide sufficient staffing for three police beats. When the city received a $324,000 bill, it disputed the charges. The county filed suit in June 2009.

"I think resolving on these terms was very advantageous to Milton taxpayers," City Attorney Ken Jarrard said following the council vote.

Representatives from the Fulton County Attorney's Office would not comment on the settlement. Nor would they comment on pending litigation against two other newly formed cities, all sued simultaneously in Fulton County State Court.

The county is seeking $1.1 million from Sandy Springs for additional costs associated with fire and EMS services provided in 2006. Shortly after it incorporated in December 2005, Sandy Springs agreed to pay Fulton County $593,400 per month for those services from January through June, and $647,565 per month for the remainder of the year.

Months later, Fulton County notified the city that those charges were less than the actual costs for fire services.

"We still feel very surprised at what they're claiming," City Attorney Wendell Willard said.

The city is conducting a forensic audit of the additional charges, he said, and expects to build a defense to the county's claims.

"We were really shocked when they made, quite some time after the conclusion of the contracts, these claims for substantial moneys which they said were owed as extras," he said.

Johns Creek is no less determined to fight. Fulton County billed the city for $12.8 million for police services from Jan. 1, 2007, to Nov. 1, 2008, and for fire services from Jan. 1, 2007, to Oct. 7, 2008. The city paid all but $581,000 and maintains it owes nothing more.

"We believe we have a very strong case that we don't owe them anything," City Manager John Kachmar said. "We're going to do all the work that's
necessary, and if it needs to go to court it needs to go to court."

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